Look at this gorgeous panoramic view! I love how you can see the full range of the scenery: the sky (no clouds in sight!), the tree line, the shadow of the trees reflected in the water, the gentle ripples of the surface of the water, and you can even see the sandy lake bed in the shallows at the bottom of the snapshot. If you are able to really zoom in, you might even make out the tiny fish swimming in the clear water at the edge of the shore.
I took this photo while walking through the lakeside campground last month. I feel most relaxed when looking at a landscape of water and trees, so that type of image becomes my “happy place.” Any anxiety melts away as I take in the surroundings with all my senses.
During grief therapy sessions with clients, I often guide them through a visualization of their own happy place. This proven technique is best for soothing you when you feel anxious or keyed up.
What is this happy place and how can you go there?
Location: First, think about where you feel most calm and free of worry. It can be a real place, like my lake view above, or your own backyard. Maybe you are more of a beach lover? It can even be an image of a place you have never visited in person, but you have seen in photos or dreamed about. Did you know the tallest waterfall in the world is in Venezuela? Due to COVID, very few of us will be traveling to see the breathtaking Angel Falls this year!
5 Senses: Gaze at a photo or close your eyes to imagine what it would be like to immerse yourself into the scene. Use your five senses: what do you see, hear, smell, and taste? What does your clothing and the air around you feel like as it touches your skin? Are you alone or is your favorite person by your side? Even if your loved one has died, you can visualize how their presence would bring you comfort in your happy place.
Release: Take a deep breath and notice how your body responds to your happy place experience. Can you feel your tense neck, shoulder, and belly muscles start to relax? Do you notice how your heart rate has slowed down a bit? Your nervous system has received the message that you are safe, and that worrying about the future does not serve you in the present.
Don’t forget you are welcome to return to this happy place any time you are craving that feeling of peace. Congrats on releasing the stress of your day, just for a moment!
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